I’ve lost count of the number of times I’m asked by someone can I Photoshop them to make them thinner, or to lose a double chin. In fact if I was given £1 for every time I was I would be significantly better off! But my answer is always no and for very good reasons. I have discussed previously about what I will or won’t Photoshop but essentially I will not remove/edit/alter a permanent feature, except in very very rare circumstances. If it is something that will be gone in a day, week or month, for example spots or fresh scars, then yes I will edit them out (on request) from the photos they are most prominent.
I was inspired or actually driven to write this article for a number of reasons. I increasingly see future brides worried that they are going to look awful in their photos, or those already married upset with how they look in their photos. These are gorgeous wonderful people. I also have no doubt that grooms are having similar thoughts just not saying so publicly.
Everyone has a body issue, don’t let it define you.
Every single person has something about themselves that they don’t like. They may or may not admit it but they do. 99.99% of the time that thing is never noticed by those around them. I’m included in that, I know I’m not a model by a very long stretch, I prefer to be behind a camera rather than in front. I have a wrinkly baby belly that will never disappear thanks to a 11lb child (yes that’s not a typo!), and my once wonderful metabolism has finally given up on me, so I will never again be a comfortable size 8-10 which I enjoyed up to my 20s, but I’m OK with that because that’s me, and those that love me, love me for me!
Everyone in this world is different, even identical twins as they grow older will have a different sense of style or humour or physical differences. And that is the most amazing thing, we are all so different but yet all the same. We are all unique but we are all humans when stripped back to our DNA. Society has it’s fashions and trends, in yesteryear it was deemed attractive to be overweight, now it’s to be skeletally thin, go figure! There is never a right answer and the vast majority of people will always look quite different to the desired impossible ideal, but yet so many struggle in vain to achieve it.
What I find fascinating is often those that are more traditionally beautiful, with model looks, are actually those the most self conscious about themselves. I know several honestly drop dead gorgeous people, who are also wonderful human beings, who just can’t see it in themselves. There are different reasons for this, societal pressures being high on the list though. These pressures are very real and I completely understand how they wear away the self confidence of people. I’ve been there, I know. Controlling how that pressure affects you is no small task either but it is possible.
The most important thing for our mental health though is not to let our looks define us as people, we need to love ourselves for who we are, for our wonky bits and flabby bits, and all the rest, not for who we think we should be. Don’t get me wrong it’s perfectly normal to not like your teeth, belly or nose, but it shouldn’t escalate to a point that you cannot see the beauty in yourself as a person, and of which everyone else sees in you. The sooner we can accept ourselves for ourselves, as long as we are healthy, the better.
Everyone has a double chin, and a…
Yes you’ve read it right, EVERYONE has a double chin when their head is at the right (wrong!) angle. Just in the same way that 99.99% of the population (if not more) will have a ‘roll’ to their tummy when they sit down. It’s not because we have something wrong with our bodies, it’s because that’s how our body works! Yes some are bigger than others but so what! As long as you are healthy there should be no evaluation of your shape or size, especially in a wedding environment.
I hate people being pressurised that they must lose weight, or must be x size or similar to be a better person. Excuse me for swearing but bollocks. If there is a health implication involved, then yes there may be a valid argument for change but other than that be whatever the hell you want to be. If you want to be in the box then great, if you want to not be, then have a field day and you should not be judged on it (presuming it breaks no laws!!).
I’m not photogenic, I’m worried I will ruin my photos!
As a photographer (and a human being!) I get it, and I also know that someone is not suddenly going to accept/realise they are beautiful in a day, or part thereof, and therefore I work with my couples and clients to make them feel as comfortable as possible. I always try and find out what that thing is, as if I can avoid highlighting it the client will naturally be more at ease.
For example I have had almost every (visible!) body part mentioned to me as an issue at some point in time. Ears, eyes, teeth, smiles, arms, legs, you name it, it’s on the list. If a bride doesn’t like their teeth I’m not going to press them to offer me a wide toothy grin as that will make them feel uncomfortable which will show up in the photos. Likewise a groom conscious of a bald patch I may well not photograph from behind. Also although I don’t pose couples I do give some simple posing advice to help minimise the prominence of a particular body part.
On a wedding day though my life is generally made quite easy for the simple fact couples are normally (after some potential initial nerves) the happiest they will be in their lives publicly. They will often be beaming ear to ear all day, and they just radiate happiness and in turn beauty. The couple photos may sometimes take a degree of coaxing but the majority of the day I sit back and take photo after after photo of beautiful happy people.
Let me introduce you to the lovely Holly
All the photos in this article are of the beautiful Holly who I previously photographed for an editorial shoot. Having kept in touch with her since the shoot and knowing (despite literally having model standard looks) that she has her own struggles I asked her if she was happy I used her photos in the article. She was more than happy and hopes that this article will help others who struggle with their self image.
Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter
This is a personal mantra of mine for many areas of my life but is especially true regarding physical appearance.
The people in your life that are important to you, the ones that matter, will not mind or care about your physical appearance. They will think you’re beautiful whatever you look like because they will only see the beauty in you, they will not see any potential faults. Those that do mind, and make a point of telling you about their issues should not play a pivotal role in your life. Sometimes that is easier said than done if someone who minds is a family member or similar, but you have to learn to ignore the negativity unless it is on the grounds of valid medical/welfare issues.
Be Happy, Be Kind, Be Beautiful
To finish I must share one of my favourite quotes, written by Roald Dahl from his book the Twits. He may have had some less than ideal beliefs in other areas but this quote will always resonate with me.
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
So always be kind, surround yourself with people that matter, and you will always ALWAYS be beautiful, as the true measure is not on what you look like but who you are as a person.
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